App Uninstall Analytics Reveal Relationship Between Uninstalls and App Rankings

By John Koetsier February 8, 2016

At Singular, we are big believers in leveraging app uninstall analytics to understand the health and optimization opportunities for a business. Many of the key reasons why you should care about your mobile app uninstall rate come to mind easily. After all, people can’t help you meet your revenue KPIs if they don’t have your app on their phones.

But what about the effect of high (or low) mobile app uninstall rates on Google Play and Apple App Store rankings? While it may not be the top consideration for mitigating uninstall effects, store ranking is definitely a topic that should be top of mind.

Uninstall Rate Effects are Real

We should preface this post by saying that we have no “insider” insight into the Google Play or Apple App Store app ranking systems. The algorithms for both stores are private. But we do believe, as do many other app marketing and analytics companies, that uninstall rates are a factor in store rankings.

App store ranking is much more complex than simply showing which apps drive the most installs. Both the Android device store (Google Play) and the iPhone (Apple App Store)stores have a strong interest in ensuring that their users get a mix of apps that they will get satisfaction from. App uninstall analytics can help you understand one component of those models.

It’s not surprising that data from app uninstall tracking would play a role in setting your app store ranking. In fact, our review of dozens of mobile app store user ranking analyses about the contributing factors for app store rankings showed general agreement on the following list of contributing factors:

It makes sense that the app stores would track user uninstalls and app uninstall rates in order to assess the quality of an application. While star ratings provide some insights into app quality, so too does the number of people who stop using an app. As we have reviewed in other posts, there are a few common reasons why people uninstall an Android or iOS application:

1) App Performance Issues

A 2015 App Dynamics survey of Android and iOS app users in the US and UK showed that 2/3 of consumers say their expectations of app performance are increasing, and that almost 9 in 10 had uninstalled an app because of poor performance. Uninstall tracking will reveal this in the number of people who uninstall immediately after a first launch.

2) Unmet User Expectations

User expectations of app utility are quite high and continue to climb.

3) Complex Onboarding Processes

People expect using an app to be easy, including the initial sign-up or configuration period. Uninstall rates are higher when companies require a social sign-up, or don’t offer the option of one, or when the amount of personal information requested during the initial launch seems too high. What constitutes too much information varies by user, but uninstalls tend to be higher when companies request information that does not appear to be germane to the core functions of an app.

4) Better Apps Available

Your app must constantly compete with other apps that can perform similar tasks and create similar value.

5) App Experience Completed

Many apps, especially in the gaming category, have a finite shelf life. When you finish every level of a game, or when an app performs a function that is no longer relevant to the user, the app is uninstalled.

6) Phone Space Constraints

Many uninstalls occur because people need to free up storage on their phones for new content. This is a particularly major cause of uninstalls in the developing world, where device price points and phone memories tend to be much smaller. Ap uninstall analytics can help you understand both the timing and the geographic dimensions of your uninstall rates.

Google is very clear that app quality will have positive impact on store rankings. From the Android Developer Blog:

A better app can go a very long way: a higher quality app will translate to higher user ratings, generally better rankings, more downloads, and higher retention (longer install periods). High-quality apps also have a much higher likelihood of getting some unanticipated positive publicity such as being featured in Android Market or social media buzz.

But it’s important to note that the impact of app uninstalls on ranking is likely related to WHEN they occur in the customer life cycle, meaning that an uninstall that occurs soon after a first launch will weigh more heavily than an uninstall that occurs after many weeks or months. Again, app uninstall analytics can provide an important tool for understanding the timing of your uninstalls.

Users of the Singular unified analytics platform are primarily app marketing professionals. There are many ways that an app marketer can help reduce the rates that uninstall tracking reveals. Our uninstall attribution measurement data points are designed to help marketers identify pockets of opportunity by showing the comparative app uninstall rates by campaign, creative, vendor, region, buying model and more. A sound UA strategy ultimately means you will have more quality users, and may contribute to better app store rankings over time.

In our platform, app uninstall analytics are calculated by dividing the number of uninstalls by the number of installs during a particular time period. You can use Singular’s many reports and custom report generating capabilities to compare uninstall rates for:

App Uninstall Analytics Example Analysis

  • By Channel Mobile Web versus Mobile App Advertising
  • By Vendor One Network Compared to Another
  • By Buying Model Incentivized versus Non-Incentivized Installs
  • By Cohort iPhone 5 versus 6 owners
  • By Region India Versus Indonesia

In addition to daily measurement, Singular clients can can conduct app uninstall analytics over any time period they wish. In addition, you can access uninstall data in most every standard or customer report available in the Singular unified analytics platform. It isn’t delivered as a “workaround” but rather as an integral piece of knowledge for a sophisticated enterprise app marketer.

App store ranking effects are not the most important consequences of a high (or low) uninstall rate. But growing users is an essential element of most app marketing programs. And anything that strengthens or weakens your ability to attract new users is something that warrants your continued attention.

Download The Singular ROI Index to see the world’s first ranking of ad networks by app ROI.

Note: This blog post was published first on the Apsalar blog, prior to Apsalar’s merger with Singular. Learn more about our united company at

Stay up to date on the latest happenings in digital marketing

Simply send us your email and you’re in! We promise not to spam you.